The Season after Pentecost: Proper 19, Year B

Doers of the Word

  • Proverbs 1:20-33
  • Psalm 19 or Wisdom 7:36-8:1
  • James 3:1-12
  • Mark 8:27-38

What is required to live a life that is faithful to God?

For the past three weeks (and next week) we have been hearing the words from the Epistle (letter) of James. “But be doers of the word, and not merely hearers who deceive themselves.” (James 1:22). James reminds us that we are called to a self-discipline that will restrain our speech and our anger, as well as our behavior that will take away from God’s perfect creation. He call us to listen to one another and obey. It is of no value for us to claim that we have heard God’s Word unless we demonstrate it by living it.

Human existence cannot be silent, nor can it be nourished by false words, but only true words, with which mean and women transform the world. To exist, humanly, is to name the world, to change it . . . Human beings are not built in silence, but in word, in work, in action-reflection. Paulo Freire 

And that’s the challenge. The issue of how to live faithfully is also a question of today’s Gospel passage. Peter’s confession and Jesus’ first Passion prediction at Caesarea Philippi stand at the midpoint of Mark’s Gospel and serve as a climax to the first half. Who is Jesus? Who will stand by him?

The final verses of today’s Gospel (as well as 9:35-37; 10:42-45) comprise Jesus’ explanation of what true discipleship is – self-giving sacrifice. Anyone who does not, to some degree, submit to Jesus’ way of self-abandonment and acknowledge suffering – being willing even to renounce life for God’s service – can never know genuine life in God. But God always leaves us the freedom to choose.

For reflection:

  • What answers does twentieth-century society give to Jesus’ question: “Who do you people say that I am?”
  • Why must Jesus suffer, be rejected, killed and raised from the dead (8:31)? Why is this particular pathway necessary?
  • What is the difference between self-denial (8:34) and poor self-esteem or even self-hatred?
  • In what ways does society pressure us to “gain the whole world”? How do we end up forfeiting our lives?
  • What does the concept of Messiah mean for us today?
  • In what ways do you think we still continue to misinterpret the ministry of Jesus?
  • How would you define the difference between Divine and human things (v. 33)? How can we discern the difference?
  • What is required for true discipleship?
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About Sharon Ely Pearson

Editor and Christian Formation Specialist for Church Publishing Incorporated
This entry was posted in Ordinary Time and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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